Arsenal 2-1 Burnley – PL review

Arsenal 2-1 Burnley

PL review – 17th August 2019




Our first home game of the season saw us defeat Burnley and Mr. Dyche in the day’s early kick-off.

We started with a 433/4231 formation, with Xhaka and Chambers not in this side, and Luiz making his debut. Ceballos had his first start, though Pepe was on the bench. And Lacazette came back, after missing the Newcastle win.

Our record vs. Burnley has been excellent since they joined the Premier League a few years ago, and Dyche must hate our guts for it. Especially given some of the manner of our victories – including two last-minute winners at Turf Moor.



This man must really detest us….


My lasting impression of this game is that we attacked well – but were defensively suspect in cases. The clean sheet gained at the Toon wasn’t repeated, though like at Newcastle we had far more attacking verve than the opposition can handle.

I also thought:


Aubameyang – Henry-esque




Auba’s winner was well-taken, and in some ways, it reminded me of how Henry scored numerous goals for us.

I’m not saying that Auba is equivalent in skill or play to Henry. But in the two PL games thus far, Auba has not just scored goals but worked the channels, played from deep, and created from the flanks, which are things Henry did in his prime. Auba is a number 9, but he’s playing more expansively lately than he did when he first joined. Yes, he is not fully adept on the wing or as a quasi-wide forward. But he’s scoring goals and jointly won the Golden Boot last season. So is it really a negative? Who knows? He’s doing his job in the team by scoring goals, so who can argue?

Auba though is getting more adept at creating from wide and linking-up in deeper regions, so his game is growing on the two games thus far.


David Luiz



Reasonable debut from Luiz

I thought he was OK in this game. He kept Barnes, sans goal, reasonably quiet, though they still managed to get crosses in during the second half especially.

But he was stable, and whilst not outstanding, he linked-up well with Sokratis and hopefully would be a welcome addition to our side over the season.


Dani Ceballos



The Los Blancos midfielder was stellar here, bringing creativity, drive, and tenacity. He got two assists, and many are saying he’s reminiscent of compatriot Santi Cazorla.

His technical skill is first-rate, and our midfield overall was mobile and matched Burnley for their strength and physicality.


Alexandre Lacazette


Laca 6

Laca got the opening goal, and he used his characteristic strength and close technical ball control to weave in the penalty area and score ably.

Our player of the 18/19 season got off to a strong start, and let’s see if he can beat last season’s goal total.


Nicolas Pepe


Pepe 1


Red Hot Chilli Pepe had a highly intriguing home debut.

His skill in defeating Ben Mee sparked many memes, though he set-up Auba with a chance that their keeper saved.

He also contributed to some second-half attacks and build-up, and we can see if he contribute more in our attacking third.


Bernd Leno


He’s looking as strong as ever, and his demeanour is highly calm and steady.

He can be our best keeper since compatriot “Mad Jens”, though without the “madness”.

Leno is clearly surer in playing out from the back than Cech was, and I feel he is underrated amongst PL keepers at large.





The 433/4321 had a more mobile midfield, and the combination of Guendouzi, Willock and Ceballos was fluid and able to handle what Burnley offered them.

I like Xhaka, though his initial misbilling as a DM and the fact that registas need given structures to operate well,, has limited him. He is the captain of his country (Switzerland), so he must have some quality about him. I also believe he is a leader – though not in the classic/archetypal sense of being a “shouter and pointer”. He does have a bold persona, and perhaps behind the scenes, he has the respect of his teammates and offers guidance to players in the dressing room. Furthermore, he can rough it up when needed and is a good set-piece taker.

But maybe we need to move beyond him or structure things so we utilise his strengths, which we haven’t done.

433 though is more favoured formation in contemporary football, since it provides the best overall balance. And many of the world’s top sides play it – City, Barca, Liverpool, etc. all do. Hell, even Spurs do on occasion.

This isn’t a formation issue as such, but the team needs to be more selective when playing from the back. There were times where we could have been caught out, and whilst we have the players to execute it technically, it’s not something we can do all the time.


The defence




Barnes’s goal had a deflection, so it’s harsh to cite the defence as wrong there.

But we did allow them too much time to cross, and it took some near desperate last-ditch interventions to stop headers or shots from them.

However, bar conceding the goal, they were fair overall.

What we need to see is continued lessons from game to game. We haven’t been learning from mistakes lately, but this must change if we’re to get top four.

If anything, this is something I would be looking for in all of our games, given its importance.

The Toon game had an 8/10 defensive rating. This game is a 6/10, since we didn’t close down their crossing capability.

For Liverpool, and Salah, Firmino, Mane and company, we need to be on point defensively, since they will look to expose us. It’s why we’ve had some really grating defeats there in recent years,

But our attacking line-up can cause them problems, so we shall see how things pan out next week.


First Arsenal taste of VAR




Soon after Barnes equalised, Nelson hit in from close range. However, it was ruled out for offside, and it was interesting to see our first taste of the new phenomenon.

If there is a criticism of it, I think we should hear or even see the process from the Premier League’s VAR Command Centre.

As the match was on BT Sport, then why not show BT’s feed? The club shows replays of goals and key incidents on the screens, so I don’t see why this cannot happen. Either way, I did see the BT highlights later, and it was indeed offside.


Player ratings


Leno 7

Maitland-Niles 7

Sokratis 6

Luiz 7

Monreal 6

Ceballos 9

Guendouzi 7

Willock 6

Lacazette 8

Aubameyang 8

Nelson 5

Pepe 8

Kolasinac 5

Torreira 5

Emery – 8Got the line-up and tactics correct. He may be realising that this shape is optimal for the team and the Premier League.



Man of the match




Auba, Guendouzi, Leno, and Laca, all had good games.

But Ceballos for me was the best.

Comparisons with Santi are all well and good – but if he can sustain this over the long-haul, then we’ll have a player on our hands.



4 Responses to Arsenal 2-1 Burnley – PL review

  1. DEW August 18, 2019 at 5:24 am #

    Good analysis except that I give one point more to willock and nelson and just one point down to lacazette.

    The new arrivals need to learn from Aubameyang how to protect themselves from tough tackles and dangerous incidents. I thought Auba was soft at first but he has found the balance currently and serving the club well with his qualities. Everyone needs to know their body balance. It is good to let some games pass if fatigue builds up or feel venerable to injuries.

  2. Victor Thompson August 19, 2019 at 12:17 pm #

    I didn`t expect good individual performances against Burnley as they rely purely on muscle and organisation. That works against teams which are a grade or two better than they are. It also tends to stifle talented players.

    Visually it was apparent that they were playing two ranks of 4 in parallel and they used that formation in attack with Barnes and Wood in the centre of the front rank. They pressed our defence high up and retreated immediately the ball was lost, so that they had numbers back in defence. They challenged every ball aggresively and harried our midfield relentlessly. Caballo has rightly been identified as the player who had the determination and talent similar to Cazorla to cause them damage. They could not tether him. He broke up their flow numerous times, but I`m afraid that Willock and Nelson could not cope with the sheer physicality of their players.

    I disagree that Leno played well. He made a few very good saves, but the game stopped to walking speed once the ball reached him. At times in the seond half I was frustrated at the time he took to make up his mind where to aim his throws. We played the ball back and forward within our own half and the statistics show that Burnley had more touches in our box than we had in theirs. They had almost the same number of shots

    Clearly our plan was to play the ball out from Leno, but it did not work. We gave countless passes away in our own half which put Burnley on the offensive again, hence the number of touches they had in our half.

    Our two goals were the product of individual talent by Auba and Lacazzette although Caballo had a hand in Auba`s. Burnley`s determination and simple tactics kept them in contention right to the end.

    Our position at the joint head of the Premiership is very misleading. We beat two teams one of which could well be doomed to relegation and the other which will finish in the bottom third. We found it hard going and I personally do not see any shape or purpose in Emery`s selections or in his coaching. Most of those people who I watched the game with, agreed that we were disjointed and sloppy with our passes and very slow to move the ball into their half, especially in the second half. We couldn`t see why Willock was kept on the field for so long. He was too weak to join combat with their taller, stronger players and there was a decided improvement when Torreira came on. That was a mistake by Emery and Liverpool will punish us as they have done in recent years, if he continues to do so. We were lucky that Cabbalo was there to make up for the hole in midfield by Willock`s inexperience. Nelson was less of a failure but he still was less than adequate in his end product. He does have obvious talent but a game like this one will not improve him.

    Sorry, but I was looking forward to seeing a difference in our play considering the players we have signed and it is true that on this evidence, Cabbalero and Pepe will certainly please us but Chambers must have been disappointed that Luis got on the team ahead of him as I thought he was solid against Newcastle and is less prone to mistakes than he is.

    • marblehallstv August 19, 2019 at 1:44 pm #

      Top of the table positions after two games generally are meaningless. But for me Leno didn’t do much wrong, and I thought whilst we weren’t at our optimum we did enough to win the game.

  3. Victor Thompson August 20, 2019 at 10:10 am #

    Thanks for your reply. I always admire your contributions and your analysis. Sorry I had to disagree on some of these points,

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